By: Patrick Callan
Advisory Committee (FAC) member Vivien
Cappe started her journey with CAMH five years ago when her 22-year-old son
was diagnosed with mental health and addictions problems.
Vivien and her family
have always been very involved in supporting him through assessments and
treatments over the years. This led to her establishing many relationships with
CAMH clinicians and eventually becoming one of the founding members of the FAC,
which officially launched in January.
“I knew that I
wanted to be part of this new initiative as I felt it was long overdue,” says
Vivien. “I hope I can contribute to building better relationships with family
members and the CAMH team.”
CAMH FAC member Vivien Cappe hopes to learn about all
the positive experiences and challenges clinicians and staff have had with
The FAC is a
partnership between CAMH and family members affected by a loved one’s mental
illness, including addictions. It serves an advisory role within CAMH’s Office of Family Engagement, which recognizes and celebrates the
contribution of families.
The FAC consists of
10 family member volunteers (Family Co-Chair Bryn MacPherson, Alan Brewer,
Vivien Cappe, Susan Conway, Robert Burns,
Mara Haase, Pauline Lefebvre Hinton, Gilda Martens, and Shala
Pezeshkzad) and two CAMH staff (CAMH Co-Chair Miriam McCann and Social Worker Jessica Morgan Bush) who advocate for patient/client- and
FAC member Susan Conway, whose son has been a
client at the Slaight Centre for the past two and a half years, says she’s seen
firsthand how helpful it can be when family are involved.
“I feel a part of
my son’s team. This has helped him receive better care, and knowing we are
contributing in a positive way has helped our family cope better as well,” she
says. “When someone is very unwell, it is often very difficult for them to
articulate the issues they are having. Those closest to you are there on a
day-to-day basis and can help the care team understand what is going on.”
FAC member Susan Conway says family engagement
helps everyone involved cope better.
Miriam McCann, Advanced Practice Clinical Leader,
Office of Family Engagement, says the FAC is part of CAMH’s commitment
to family engagement and a direct response to family feedback.
“The committee was
recruited through a broad call for interest within CAMH and in the community.
Members were interviewed and there was a selection process. Particular care was
taken to ensure diversity and a broad range of experience of family members,”
formed in July 2017 and started holding monthly meetings in August. Since then,
it has become an integral part of the recovery process at CAMH. Committee members are now involved in all
levels of the hospital, including the Patient Engagement Working Group, Program
Quality Councils and Working groups, as well as special projects such as Patient Oriented Discharge Summary (PODS).
Externally, the FAC
sits on the Ontario Family Caregiver Advisory Network (OFCAN) – an advisory
committee that connects groups in Ontario who support family caregivers of
people with mental health and addiction issues.
“Families want to
be part of the team. If we listen to the voices of families we will hear
invaluable information. We will learn another side to the client’s life,” says
Vivien. “Every piece that makes up a client’s life is important and needs to be
connected. Family is a huge piece of that puzzle and needs to be heard.”
The Family Advisory Committee
is a partnership between CAMH staff and family members affected by a loved
one’s mental illness, including addictions. It consists of 10 family member
volunteers and two CAMH staff who advocate for patient/client- and
For Vivien, two
words come to mind when she thinks of her experience with CAMH – journey and
“We all want to learn how to navigate the system so that our
journey will not only be successful but also rewarding. At times there are
divides between staff and family, and I believe it is one of the jobs of FAC to
be a bridge that brings the two sides together,” she says.
Susan says as
someone who has worked in health care for many years, she found it was natural
to advocate for her son and work with his care team, but she realizes this
isn’t so easy for other families. “I would like to find ways to ensure that
families understand how to best advocate for their loved ones and collaborate
with their care teams,” she says.
As the FAC
finalizes its work plan for the coming year, Vivien hopes she’ll be able to
have open and honest dialogue with senior leadership across CAMH.
“I hope that my
voice will always carry a tone of respect and admiration when I share thoughts
with all involved in helping clients have happy and hopeful lives,” she says.
Miriam says the
long-term goal of the FAC is that families at CAMH will be partners in
client/patient’s recovery journey and supported in an integrated experience of
“They will be
embraced and actively engaged at all levels of the hospital,” she says.
Published on February 16, 2018.